It’s probably a good mix of joy and relief this week for the management at Uganda Airlines. Planes took to the skies recently after months sitting on the ground at Entebbe International Airport. On Tuesday, the airline had its inaugural flight from Entebbe to Nairobi.
The pair of Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets were delivered in April but the carrier has spent the last few months satisfying regulatory requirements and making all the necessary preparations before operating as an airline. Tuesday marked the first flight for the airline… kind of. It’s been roughly two decades since Uganda Airlines closed down in 2001. This is the re-incarnation of the country’s flag carrier.
The first flight
The maiden voyage for the airline was flight number UR202. According to Ugandan news site The Independent, the flight departed at 6:05 am August 27th and landed in Nairobi shortly after at 7 am. However, two other sources (SoftPower News and The Observer Uganda) report that the flight took off at 11:10 am and arrived at 12:10 pm.
Whatever time the flight took off and landed, it was greeted with a water cannon salute upon arrival in Nairobi. In Nairobi, there was a welcome ceremony held at Four Seasons. Kenya’s cabinet secretary for East African Community Adan Mohamed the chief guest.
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing director, Johnny Andersen, was also in attendance according to NewVision News. In a speech he said the following:
“We are proud that Uganda Airlines has joined our airline fraternity at JKIA. We extend to you a warm welcome and wish you success at this airport”.
Speaking to The Independent (Uganda) the pilot of the inaugural flight, Captain Charles Karabarinde, had this to say about his experience:
“Everything was perfect. We reported in our offices and everyone was happy. The passengers came on time and we arrived on time. We reached Nairobi and we were warmly welcomed,”
Social media mentions and visuals
Upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, our counterparts welcomed us with a water salute.
— Uganda Airlines (@UG_Airlines) August 27, 2019
Water canon salute for the inaugural @UG_Airlines commercial flight at JKIA early this morning.
A few observations:
– Excellent service from captain and crew
– Flight was on time (departure 06:05; arrival 06:55)
– The numbers were a bit low (8 passengers!)
Overall, 👏🙌 pic.twitter.com/EgrcCwsrLZ
— Kwezi Tabaro (@Kwezi_Tabaro) August 28, 2019
Here is another tweet regarding the first flight to Juba in South Sudan:
Captain Charles Karabarinde who flew our Aircraft to Juba this morning also spoke to journalists from South Sudan and colleagues from Uganda we travelled with.
We thank you all for flying with us to Juba and hope to see you again soon. #LetsGo
— Uganda Airlines (@UG_Airlines) August 28, 2019
The Uganda Airlines fleet
According to AirFleets, the airline has only two aircraft in its fleet right now. These are Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets and have registrations 5X-KQB and 5X-EQU. As mentioned above, deliveries took place in April and so these jets are only half a year old.
There are sky-high hopes for the airline, but it looks like growth will be slow and incremental. The airline has two more aircraft on order – both of them are Airbus A330-800s. Airbus will deliver these aircraft in late 2020.
According to Vianney Luggya of Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority, Entebbe sees a lot of passenger traffic from places like London, the Middle East and China. It’s quite possible once these A330s are delivered that we’ll see them at LHR and DXB. But only time will tell!
Do you think Uganda Airlines has what it takes to survive in the shadow of airlines like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian? Let us know by leaving a comment! Oh – and if you can figure out why 4 different sources are reporting two different times, let us know as well!